Skip to main content

Full text of "Knots, ties and splices; a handbook for seafarers, travellers, and all who use cordage; with historical, heraldic, and practical notes"

See other formats





0tate OfaUege at Agticultuw 

At (Qotnell Ininetaitg 
3tl)aca. H. f . 


All books 

are subject to recall after two weeks 
Uris Library 

JUN 1 

3 2001 

nB ^ 


JUL "* 




Cornell University 

The original of tliis bool< is in 
tine Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 










Broadway, Ludgate Hill, E.G. 


@. X('^o^ 

/ / 









SHORTENINGS ■ - - " = - 33 




SPLICES - - . o . 46 



TIES 58 


















KNOTS? What? Knots? 
There are love knots, matrimonial knots, Gor- 
dian Knots. These are figurative. 

There is the Stafford Knot, the Bouchier Knot, the 
Lacy Knot, the Henage Knot, the Dacre Knot, the 
Harrington Knot (which is not a knot at all), as well 
as the Wake Knot. These are heraldic. 

There is the Monkey Knot, the Wind Knot, the 
Peruvian Knot, and conjurors' knots. These are fancy 

There are weavers' knots, builders' knots, sailors' 
knots, reef knots, fishermen's knots. These are real 
and useful knots. 

But they are only twisted cord. Cni bono? What 's 
the use .' 

Let a few personal examples suffice. 

Thirty years ago a lad was standing in a garden 
gazing at a surging mass of coloured silk, which heaved 
to and fro over the heads of a dense crowd. The wind 


was blowing in fitful gusts, and heavy masses of 
vapour rolled overhead. The crowd had assembled to 
witness a balloon ascent. Cautious bystanders wished 
the exhibition to be postponed in consequence of the 
state of the weather; but the crowd roared, and the 
aeronaut took his seat in the car. The men who held 
the ropes were nearly pulled off the ground by the 
plunging balloon. At last, in sheer despair, the mad 
and struggling thing was released, and away it went. 
It rose above the surrounding buildings, but it was 
obvious to all that the wind was too strong, and that 
the life of the aerial navigator was in great danger. 
The boy could see him gesticulating to the various 
groups of people. He saw the grapnel thrown out. It 
dragged the ground. There was a pause for a moment 
in the progress of the balloon, but the bystanders 
merely gaped. Again the balloon came on towards 
the boy in the garden. At first he was paralysed, but 
his companion said, " Let us catch the ropes and twist 
them round a tree." The boy thought that such a 
scheme was not only wild in conception, but useless in 
practice. They waited for a few moments, until the 
grapnel again touched the ground, and tore up the 
surface of the adjoining pasture. The traveller above 
called to "secure the guide-ropes when the grapnel 

The boys were ready and excited, when the grap- 
nel caught a stump in the hedge-bottom, and checked 
the mad career of the balloon which fluttered and 
struggled above them. They rushed forward, seized 


a rope, and ran round the stump of a tree with it. 
They were about to do the same with another rope, 
when the grapnel gave way. 

"Hold on, Jack," said the elder boy, "to this rope.' 
And he took the other, and in a few seconds had 
secured it round the post of the gate. The ropes 
creaked — the tree was pulled like a young sapling. 
The intrepid and daring aeronaut came out of the 
car, held on by a rope for a moment, and dropped to 
the earth. The balloon, released of his weight, tore 
up the gate-post, snapped the cord which tied it to 
the tree, and bounded into the air. 

"Well done, boys," said the late Mr. Graham, 
when he recovered his breath. " You did more than 
those fools dare," pointing to the crowd which now 
hurried up. "I owe my life to your knowing the 
power of a twisted rope, and having the ability to 
tie a simple knot." 

That was my first lesson in the uses of knots and 
ties. My second led to a more profound knowledge 
of the art. 

I was staying at Ennis, fishing in the Fergus, when 
the salmon ran, and occasionally visiting the lakes of 
Inchiqutn, Ballyalla, or Drumconora for trout, when 
suddenly my rod snapped in the second joint. My 
cast-line was torn. I was in the most deplorable 
plight a young angler was ever in. There were fish 
in plenty, but my cherished rod was spoilt, and days 
must elapse ere it could be replaced. 

" What could I do ? " I asked, in a tone of chagrin. 


"Take it to old Jack,'' said an old fisherman. And 
to " old Jack " I took it. 

"Old Jack " was one of the kindest and most genial 
old tars I ever met with. His name was, I believe, 
McDonnell or O'Donnell, and his Christian name 
was Donagh, Donald, or Dermod, or some Gaelicized 
Bible name, which was supplanted by the universal 
Jack. Though he had lost an arm in the " untoward 
affair " at Navarino, he could " tie a fly " or make a 
rod with any man in Munster. He was equally the 
pet of the officers of the garrison and the boys of 
the town. To one he sold his excellent rods, and he 
mended the broken tackle of the other with equal 
gusto. He was very poor, yet he maintained an infirm 
sister and himself in respectability on a small pension 
and the produce of his rod and fly making. His 
well-balanced four-joint sixteen-feet salmon-rod was 
a beauty — the lower joint of ash, the two middle ones 
of hickory, and the top of greenhart. It made one's 
blood tingle to feel the pliant, well-balanced switch, 
and to know that the lordly salmon was almost within 
reach. The accident to my favourite rod introduced 
me at once to " old Jack," and initiated me in time 
into the further mysteries of " knots, ties, and splices." 
In the course of a few minutes he produced a small 
bottle of liquid glue, with which he anointed the 
broken rod, and " whipped " the splintered parts with 
fine waxed cord. He did it so readily that I wondered 
at the neatness, strength, and renewed symmetry of 
my " equal -to -new" rod. A fev/ well-made knots 


mended my line, and a new world opened up before 

If any one asks the utility of knots, let the sailor 
answer. A little knowledge of them saved ten lives 
when the Serrano was wrecked ; it enabled me to 
reach the Gipsy when she left her moorings with two 
boys on board ; it lengthened and firmly united the 
bed-cords at a fire in Staple's Buildings, which enabled 
two people to escape from the upper-floor windows. 
At a hundred times and places the art — for it is an 
art — is useful. We know that Napoleon ennobled the 
inventor who could tie a knot in a piece of stretched 
string. Our ships are a mass of knots ; and only last 
month a number of lives were lost in a Staffordshire 
colliery because the man who mended the rope did 
not know how to splice properly. The wonderful 
hero in "Foul Play" would have been much more 
wonderful if he could have knotted, knitted, netted, 
and spliced well; but the lady was the superior genius 
here, and had to make the nets. 

Some httle seafaring, some living in out-of-the-way 
places and travelling in lonely localities, have shown 
me the manifold uses of knots ; and I acquired the 
knowledge of how to tie them sometimes from 
necessity, though I have not had the advantage of 
the boatswain's Saturday afternoon instruction with 
a marlinespike. I have gathered from various sources, 
as well as my own experience, these notes on " Knots, 
Ties, and Splicing,'' for there are but few who can tie 
a knot securely, though it is an operation that we 


have to perform nearly every day of our lives. Not 
only seamen, but nearly every trade and every variety 
of labourer, has his or its special knot, which has been 
handed down from father to son, and from master to 
apprentice, for any number of years. It is an art, for 
if a tyro attempts to join two pieces of string together, 
in all probability it will be what is termed a false or 
a " granny " knot, or simply connect the two ends by 
an overhaul knot, which, if the easiest, is the clumsiest, 
and which Alpine travellers know is fatal to the 
strength of a rope. The sailor's, weaver's, or fisher- 
man's knot would answer his purpose better. 



The history of knots is lost in the mist of antiquity. 
An ingenious essayist has told us that they are pro- 
bably as "old as human fingers," and, doubtless, in 
Paradise the trailing flowers twisted themselves into 
wreaths amongst the spreading branches, as they 
formed a bower for mankind's first mother. Since 
that time they have become interwoven with man's 
life. Superstition has appropriated them, jugglers have 
used them, lovers have symbolized them, and good 
men have used them. They are a part of his occu- 
pation. Eve could not have begun her proverbial 
spinning in the days of general gentility without first 
tying a knot ; and the first lady of the land ties a 
perfect knot every time she moves her tatting shuttle. 

Knots were common in the time of Homer, for in 
the eighth book of the " Odyssey," Ulysses is repre • 
sented securing the rich and costly robes, vases, gold, 
and other valuable presents of Alcinoiis and his queen 
by a cord of rope, fastened in a knot "closed with 
Circean art." This knot of Ulysses became a proverb, 
to express any unsolvable difficulty, SxoS OSwo-^ws Seir/tJs, 
and a proof of the esteem in which the ancients held 



this art, so necessary in the absence of locks, may be 
adduced from the Gordian Knot ; and, in fact, Homer 
describes the treasures and other valuable objects as 
being kept in the citadel, secured merely by a cord 
intricately knotted. 

Probably we shall never know how the Gordian 
Knot was tied. Every young gentleman, however, 
knows the story of Gordius, the Phrygian husband- 
man, who was promoted to a kingdom by the oracle 
of Apollo, and how he hung up his plough-traces a? 
a votive offering in the temple of Jupiter. He, how- 
ever, tied one rope of these traces with so cunning a 
knot, that it was foretold that whoever unloosed it 
should be king of all Asia. We are told how baffling 
the knot v/as, and how Alexander the Great, when 
he found he could not untie it. cut it with his sword. 
There are some who would gladl}' follow the grim 
Macedonian's example, and cut the hymeneal knot 
which binds them to an unsympathetic or uncongenial 

The old sorcerers used knots, we are told, in their 
incantations. The witches of Lapland sold " wind 
knots" tied in a rope to their seafaring customers, 
who, when they wanted a particular wind, instead of 
whistling for it, untied the corresponding knot which 
had been tied by enchantment. Indeed, in all ages 
and in all climes knots, with their manifold uses and 
advantages, seem to have been used by necromancers 
as a means of mystification in furtherance of their 
magic aits. The Davenport Brothers were not the first 


who showed their expertness with ropes and knots. 
Men had been tied with cords and put into sacks or 
boxes who emerged almost immediately free of all 
bonds ; and there are scores of tricks published in 
conjuring books showing some interesting tricks with 
loops, slip-knots, false hitches, and other contrivances 
familiar to those who use cordage. 

There is one part of the history of knots which has 
received but little attention, though it has not been 
overlooked in the many treatises on armoury which 
have been published from time to time ; and these are 
known as — 



The knots u.-.ed in heraldry are technically called 
" badges," and have been probably in use from a very 
early time, when heraldry, as we understand it, was a 
thing of the future. We find both in Celtic structures, 
and in those attributed to the Anglo-Saxons, many 
curious ornaments formed of interlaced cordage. We 
have given two small examples (pp. 38 and lOi) which 
exemplify the method by which the twists and turns 
of a piece of rope were made into a geometric and 
not unpleasing ornament. 

Of the heraldic knots that of Stafford is the simplest, 
and is used as the badge of the shire as well as of the 
noble house who first used it. It is an open, simple 
knot only (Fig. i). 

Probably the oldest is the Wake KNOT, which is 
used also by the Ormonde family, and is known by 
their joint names. If this was the badge of Hereward 
the Wake, it is the most interesting of all the heraldic 
knots (Fig. 2). 

The next in simplicity is the BOUCHIER KNOT 
(F'g- 3)- It is formed of two open "granny" knots, 
and decorates the mantlings of a nobleman of the 
Bouchicr family. In Westminster Abbey, on the tomb 



of another Bouchier, it is several times repeated. It 
is sometimes shown as cordage, and at others as cord 
and beaded belt combined. 

The elegant interlaced knot (Fig. 4) is supposed 
to represent a monogram. It is found embroidered 
in the robe of the effigy of Anne of Bohemia in West- 
minster Abbey. 

The BOWEN Knot (Fig. 5) is simply a cross formed 
by four loops with a circular rope, and may have been 
a rebus like 

The Lacy Knot (Fig. 6), which is finely sculptured 
at Whalley Abbey, and simply means interlaced ; and 
the same, judging from the motto, is 

The Henage Knot (Fig. 7), which bears the 
legend, " Fast, though untied." 

The so-called knot of the Harringtons (Fig. 8) 
appears to be only a bit of fretwork from one of the 

The badge of the Dacres (Fig. 9) is formed by a 
cord entwining an escalop-shell and the ragged staff 
of Nevil, and is somewhat tastefully arranged. It is 
thought to indicate the descent from the Bouchiers or 
the union of their families, just as Edward, Lord 
Hastings (Fig. 10), entwines the sickle of the Hunger- 
fords with the garb of the Peverells. 

There are many foreign examples of this device. 
One of the family of Morvilliers shows the Pythago- 
rean 7 (so called because the philosopher made it the 
symbol of life), entwined with a hitch knot which is 
attached to a harrow, which thus forms a rebus on the: 

2 — 2 


name of the French Chancellor at the time when 
Elizabeth ruled over England. Pope Leo X. had a 
twisted knot and a band round a yoke, and the House 
of Savoy took a " Figure.of 8 Knot " for their device, 
with the motto "Stringe ma non constringe," — it 
bends, but constrains not. As far back as 1252 an 
Order of the Knot was established at Naples. The 
badge, of silk, gold, and pearls, was tied in a knot 
upon the arm, and those who were invested with it 
made a vow to untie it at Jerusalem. 

There is one other knot which, if not heraldic, is at 
least emblematic ; and many a true lover is anxious 
for that knot, which, if once tied by the tongue, cannot 
be untied by the teeth. On the signet ring preserved 
in the birthplace at Stratford-on-Avon is engraved a 
true lover's knot entwining the letters W. S., and this 
is said to have belonged to Shakespeare (Fig. 1 1). 

Quaint Sir Thomas Brown surmised that the true 
>lover'S' knot had its origin in the N^odus Herculaneus, 
a very high and esteemed sacred knot of Hercules, 
resembling the snaky complication in the Caduceus 
or rod of Hermes. These ancient rods were probably 
only metaphorical. Ere, however, we conclude our 


notices of these fanciful knots, let us point out that 
one of the forms of a crest wreath is that of a twisted 
" cat's paw " (Fig. 99). 

If, however, we cannot trace distinctly the history 
of knots through all its various transformations, we 
can scientifically define it. "It is an endless physical 
line, which cannot be deformed into a circle. A 
physical line is flexible and unextensible, and cannot 
be cut, so that no lap of it can be drawn through 
another." It is altogether beside our purpose here to 
follow the theories of Listing, or the learned disserta- 
tions of Professor Tait {Trans. Roy. Soc. Edinburgh, 
1876), for, though interesting in a mathematical sense, 
they are hardly simple enough for a " practical hand- 

: . Bureau Nature Shfry- 


Looking at the subject simply as a practical one, 
we must first direct attention to the material generallj 
used for the making of knots. Many boys have, 
doubtless, amused themselves by untwisting a piece 
of whipcord, which in reality is a miniature rope, and, 
in doing so, must have noticed the use which has been 
made of the original twist of the filaments of hemp or 
flax to bind the whole together into one continuous 
line. This is done by twisting the yarn in opposite 
directions, so that they bind together. If the strands 
(as a number of yarns are called) were twisted one 
way only, they would untwist themselves and part at 
the slightest strain ; but advantage is taken of this 
tendency to untwist, and the result is that a hard, 
firm cord, bound together by the friction of its parts, 
is the result of laying strands together which have 
been twisted in opposite directions. According to the 
number of strands and variety of twists, the varieties 
of twine, cord, marline, ropes, hawsers, and cables are 
made. To join two ends of these together, j-ou must 
use either a knot, a tie, or a splice. 

Knots, however, are as various as the material 
knotted. The coarse fibres, thongs of hide, or twisted 



intestines of savage nations, have given place to cord- 
age of various sizes, thicknesses, and material. Ad- 
vantage is taken of the natural curve and tendency of 
vegetable fibre to secure the greatest firmness, strength, 
and consequent security. The most rigorous tests are 
applied to know the exact strain different substances 
will bear; but whatever the substance, the principle of 
manufacture remains the same. The process has been 
modified as machinery has been brought into use, in 
order to produce a flexible and tena":ious cord which 
shall retain the collective strength of every fibre of the 
material of which it is composed. Of these materials 
hemp is the most common, and, of all kinds of hemp, 
that of Manilla is the most serviceable, and generally 

In studying the nature and uses of knots, particu- 
larly those which come under the designation of 
splices, some knowledge of the mode, and of the prin- 
ciples on which ropes are made, is essentially necessary. 
The simplest and most effectual mode of obtaining 
the united strength of the fibres composing the rope 
would be to lay them side by side, and fasten them 
together at each end, as in the Sevagee (Fig. 98). 
This plan, even if the fibres of hemp were of the 
necessary length, would be open to many objections ; 
hence it was necessary to devise some plan which 
would give unlimited length to the rope, and at the 
same time preserve its torsion and portability. This 
has been achieved by the compression and twisting 
of the fibres in. different directions, until they produce 


a compact, hard, and strong rope, neither breaking 
the fibres on the one hand, nor leaving them so loose 
as to be easily drawn out from the mass on the other, 
— either extreme would be equally fatal in its results, 
and injurious to the stability of the rope. This happy 
medium is achieved by the modern process of rope- 
making, whether by hand or machinery. 

At first the fibres of hemp are loosely twisted to- 
gether, and form what is technically known as yarn. 
When two or three yarns are twisted together they 
form a strand, three strands form a rope, and three 
ropes a cable. It will be borne in mind that each 
portion of the cable is twisted in an opposite direction 
to the cable itself, so that advantage may be taken of 
the tendency to untwist to counteract the like ten- 
dency in other portions of the cable. This will be 
better understood by a reference to the accompanying 
diagram of a cable. 

Thus A shows the fibres of which a yarn is com- 
posed ; B, the yarns comprising a strand; c shows 
the strands forming a rope D, which together form 
the cab'.e E. These are, in their turn, subjected to a 
variety of processes in order to insure their bearing an 
equal strain prior to their being combined into a cable. 
As a broad general rule it should be borne in mind 
that the loss of bearing power by twisting is almost 
one-third, but the tighter twisted ropes gain in dura- 
bility what they lose in power. A twist of four-fifths 
of the length of the component yarns gives one-third 
more bearing power than if twisted to two thirds of 



Fig. 12. — Analysis of Cable. 

the length, which is the ordinary twist of ropes in use. 
The larger cables have even a greater twist than this. 
The various descriptions of line and rope, with their 
weights and lengths, are as follows : — 

Kinds. Length. 

Reefing-twine 24 skeins 

Sewing-twine 24 „ 

Marline 12 „ 

Log-lines 25 fathoms 

Samson-lines 30 

Fishing-lines 25 

8 to 9 lbs. 
8 to 9 „ 

4 .. 
I to 3 „ 

n » 




Kinds. Length. Weight. 

Fishing-lines 25 fathoms ... ^ lbs, 

>' " » • •■ I iy 

Hambro'-lines( 6 threads) 23 „ ... 1^/2,, 
(9 .. ) „ ,, ... 2]^ „ 
(12 „ ) „ „ ... 3 „ 

Hand lead-lines 20 „ ... 4 „ 

Deep-sea-lines 120 „ ... 28 ,. 

» » » ••• 32 ), 

" »> J) •■• 34 » 

" » » ■•• 3^- >> 

This is from the computation of Mr. Chapman, the 
master ropemaker of Deptford Dockyard. In further 
explanation of the terms used, it should be borne in 
mind that — 

Kyarn is several fibres of hemp twisted together. 

Tivine, or small cord, is two twisted yarns, 

Matline is three twisted yarns. 

A hawser is a rope formed of three strands, con- 
taining from fifteen to twenty-five yarns in each strand. 

A cable is a large hand -twisted rope, made from 
three or four smaller ropes twisted round a common 

Laying a rope is the twisting of the strands in a 
hawser-laid or shroud-laid rope, and of the component 
ropes in a cable. 

Serving a rope is to cover it with smaller cord or 
spun yarn, to preserve it from rolling and from friction. 
To facilitate the operation the yarn is passed two pr 
three times round the rope, and tightened by a species 



of mallet with a con- 
cave groove on the 
side opposite to the 
mallet. This enables 
the yarn to be twisted 
tightly and evenly 
round the rope, in the 
same manner as the 
silver wire is twisted 
round the fourth, or 
silver, string of a 
violin (Fig. 13). 

Parcelling a rope 
(Fig. 14) is wrapping 
narrow strips of canvas 
about it, well tarred, 
in order to secure it 
from being injured by 
rain-water lodging be- 
tween the parts of the 
service when worn. 
The parcelling is put 
on with the lay of the 
rope, with the edges 

Worming a rope 
|Fig. 15) is filling up 
the divisions between 
the strands, to give it 


a round and full appearance prior to parcelling or 

A knowledge of the strength of ropes, and of their 
breaking weight, is essential in all operations where 
ropes are required. We are indebted to the Alpine 
Club for some valuable experiments on the strength 
of ropes used in Alpine excursions. In the course of 
these experiments the weakness of plaited ropes was 
demonstrated with startling effect. Indeed, the value 
of a plaited rope does not lie in its power to bear 
heavy weights or sudden jerks, but in its wearing 
properties when exposed to constant friction, as in 
sash and clock-lines. The committee of the Alpine 
Club found, in the course of nearly a hundred experi- 
ments with various kinds of rope, only four bore the 
strain of twelve stone falling five feet, and all these 
four ropes were made by Messrs. Buckingham and 
Sons, of 33 Broad Street, Bloomsbury. In the further 
experiments one of these ropes failed. Of the three 
ropes which remained, they were so nearly equal that 
it was difficult to say which was to be preferred. 

" Each of these three ropes '' (we quote from the 
report) "will bear twelve stone falling ten feet, and 
fourteen stone falling eight feet ; and it may be useful 
to say that the strain upon a rope loaded with a 
weight of fourteen stone, and suddenly checked after 
a fall of eight feet, is nearly equal to that which is 
caused by a dead weight of two tons. None of these 
ropes, however, will bear a weight of fourteen stone 
falling ten feet ; and the result of our experiments is 


that no rope can be made, whether of hemp, flax, or 
silk, which is strong enough to bear that strain, and 
yet light enough to be portable. We believe that' 
these ropes, which weigh about three-quarters of an 
ounce to the foot, are the heaviest which can be con- 
veniently carried about in the Alps. We append a 
statement of the respective merits of the three kinds, 
all of which were made by Messrs. Buckingham ex- 
pressly for the Club, and marked by a red worsted 
thread twisted in the strands : — 

No. I. Manilla Hemp.— Weight of 20 yards, 48 

Advantages. — Is softer and more pliable than 2. Is 
more elastic than 2 and 3. When wet, is far more 
pleasant to handle than 2 or 3. 

Disadvantages. — Has a tendency to wear and fray 
at a knot. 

No. 2. Italian Hemp. — Weight of 20 yards, 43 

Advantages. — Is less bulky than i and 3. Is harder, 
and will probably wear best, being least likely to cut 
against rocks. 

Disadvantages. — Is much more stiff and difficult to 
untie than i and 3. When wet, is very disagreeable to 
handle, and is apt to kink. 

No. 3. Flax. — Weight of 20 yards, 44 ounces. 

Advantages. — When dry is soft, more pliable, and 
easier to handle than i and 2, and will probably wear 
better than i. 

Disadvantages. — When wet, becomes decidedly 


somewhat weaker, and is nearly as disagreeable to 
handle as 2. 

It should be borne in mind that a knot weakens a 
rope at any time, and particularly if ill constructed : 
with a falling weight a knot like Fig. 67, or a loop like 
Fig. 31, is especially to be avoided. 

The best knots recommended by the Alpine Com- 
mittee are Fig. 68 to join two ropes, Fig. 29 and Fig. 
33 for loops. These are all the knots required on an 
Alpine excursion. 

A good formula for calculating the strength of 
ropes is given by Robison :— Multiply the circum- 
ference of the rope in inches by itself, and the fifth 
part of the product will express the number of tons 
the rope will carry. For example, if the rope be 6 
inches in circumference, 6x6 = 36, the fifth of which is 
7i — the number of tons which such rope will sustain. 
The following simple rules for calculating the 
weight of cordage of all kinds will be found service- 
able. To find the weight of a hawser, or shroud-laid 
rope, multiply the circumference in inches by itself, 
and multiply the product by the length of the rope in. 
fathoms, and divide by 420, the product will be the 
weight in hundredweights. Example: To find the- 
weight of a six-inch hawser-laid rope 120 fathoms- 
long; 6x6=36x120=4,320, which, divided by 42c,. 
gives the weight of the rope, 10 cwt. i qr. 4 lbs. 

Again : To find the weight of cable-laid cordage, 
multiply its circumference in inches by itself, and, 
divide by 4. The product will be the weight, in hun- 


dredweights, of a cable 120 fathoms long, from which 
the weight of any other length may be readily de- 
duced. Example: Required the weight of a 12-inch 
cable 120 fathoms long; 12 x 12=144, divide by 4, 
and the product, 36, is the weight in hundredweights. 
Cotton, silk, and cocoa-nut fibre are sometimes used 
for cordage ; indeed, the latter has many advantages, 
one of the greatest of which is its lightness and resist- 
ance to the influence of water. Iron is now commonly 
used for standing rigging of ships, and wire ropes have 
a deserved reputation. Knots, however, do not per- 
tain to iron in any shape, unless an iron nodule form 
the necessary and inevitable exception. 



Let us begin at the beginning. A plain rope is 
before us. We should remember that a rope, to hold 
tight when tied tight, should always be well stretched. 
The power of tension in a rope is considerable, and 
to those who are in the habit of packing goods, or 
even trunks, this power of giving way is sometimes a 
source of considerable annoyance, often aggravated by 
ill-tied knots slipping or becoming loose. In the 
nautical world, cordage and cables are always stretched 
and their strength tested before being used, in ordci 
to guard against any possible danger from this cause. 

Fig. i6. Fig. 17. Fig. 18. 

Taking the plain cord, it may be remarked that all 
knots are begun by either "loops" or "hitches;" and 
these may be single or double as required. 

Thus, Fig. 16 is a Simple Hitch, Fig. 17 an Un- 
derhand Loop, and Fig. 18 an Overhand Loop. 
If we pass the loose end through either an overhand 




or underhand loop, we have the simplest of all knots, 
as shown in Fig. 19, which when drawn taut has the 
appearance of Fig. 20. The perfect knot is known as 
the "Figure of 8 Knot" (Fig. 21), is formed oy an 
underhand and overhand loop overlapping each other, 
and the loose end passed through the loop. When 
tight, as shown in Fig. 22, it bears a close resemblance 
to the Arabic numeral 8 ; hence its familiar name. 

Fig. 19. 

Fig. 20. 

Fig. 21. 

Fig 22. 

What may be called compound simple knots are 
known by the name of Double, Treble, Four-fold, or 
Six-fold Knots. They are in constant use when it is 
necessary to shorten a rope a few inches, or to increase 

Fig. 23. 

Fig. 24. 

Fig. 25. 

Fig. 26. 

the size or strength of a holding knot to prevent it 
passing through an eye or a block. These knots are 
made by passing the end of a rope twice, thrice, or as 
many times as may be necessary, through a loop (as 
shown in the simple knot) previously to "nipping," or 
drawing it taut by pulling both ends. Fig. 23 shows 
a double knot loosely formed, Fig. 24 when "nipped," 


Fig. 25 a treble knot nipped, and Fig. 26 its open 
formation. In Fig. 27 we have a five-fold knot, shown 
open, and in Fig. 28 its appearance when nipped. 
The Five and Six-fold Knot forms a coil of handsome 
close folds, and is very useful to travellers who do not 
wish to cut the precious cords of their baggage when 
on a journey, and to whom long loose ends are a 
special abomination. In the following section some 
•• shortenings " which are more easily undone are ex- 
plained ; but for short lengths, a couple or more of 
six-fold knots are useful and handy. 

Fig. 27. Fig. 28. 

From simple knots the way is easy to loops, nooses, 
and running knots, which are neither the least impor- 
tant nor the least useful of the knots. To this class 
belongs the " Tomfool Knot," which proved a puzzle 
knot for the Davenport spirits, and also the Tyburn 
Noose, which has ended many a troubled life. The 
simple Running Knot is made by passing a hitch instead 
of the end of the rope when making a simple knot (see 
Fig. 29). The variations of this knot are very numerous. 
A succession or chain of these running knots form the 
single plait or chain shortening, to which we shall 
have again occasion to refer. When the loose end A 


is knotted with a simple perfect or double knot, it 
forms one of the most useful and easily made loops, 
though its power of holding is not so great as either 
Figs. 31, 52, or 33. When there is sufficient length of 
rope to permit its being let down double, it forms a 

Fig. 29. Fig. 31. 

Fig. 30. 

good loop for lifting inanimate objects, as the hitch 
may be lengthened and then drawn taut, though Fig. 
34 is more commonly used for this purpose, as the 
pressure and weight of the object tends to tighten the 
grasp of the knot. The best knot for this purpose is 
the " Running Bowline" (Fig. 40). If the end a is 
passed backwards through the loop B, it forms an 
excellent shortening knot, but is not adapted to bear 
a hard strain. 

In its double shape, the running loop under the 
name of the "TOMFOOL Knot" (Fig. 30), has achieved 
greater renown than perhaps any knot of modern 
times. The Liverpool gentlemen- who introduced it 



to the Davenport Brothers have been often asked for 
instruction how to tie it. It is a double loop through 
a simple knot. It is made in the beginning like the 
running knot (29), after which the firm end is passed 
through the open simple knot, so as to form a double 
loop or bow. Thus, if the wrists or hands are placed 
within the open loops D c, and the latter drawn tight, 
and the loose ends tied firm round the centre, a pair 
of handcuffs is produced which the skill of the Daven- 
ports could not untie. The firmness and security of 
the knot depends, however, on the rope being well 
stretched, otherwise a person with small hands would 
not have much difficulty in releasing himself from 
this or any other knot made on a rope. 

The common I.OOP Knot (Fig. 31) is tied similar to 
the open Hand Knot (Figs. 62 and 63), and forms the 
ordinary useful loop of every-day life. A more orna- 
mental and even stronger loop, which is well adapted 
for large cordage, is made by the figure 8 knot (Fig. 

This loop, like Fig. 31, when once made and has 
been subjected to a lengthened strain, is very difficult 
to untie. In this case there is nothing better than a 
running knot with a check knot, E (Fig. 33), which is 
a modification of the fisherman's knot, and will be 
found eminently serviceable. In this knot, the simple 
knot E is tied over the running line, as shown. After 
use it may be easily drawn apart, the loop slipped, and 
the knot untied in a comparatively brief space of time. 
This is a very suspicious knot in all conjuring per- 



formances, as it can be easily unloosed by a slight 
effort of the ankle or wrist ; when the loop is carried 
round a chair it may be slackened or tightened in an 

Fig- 32. 

Fig. 33' 

There are but few knots which will not give way in 
a new rope sufficient for a man to release his hands, 
and then the rest is easy. Speaking as a rule, the 
more rope, the easier the release. When two persons 
are confined together, the chances are largely in- 
creased in favour of the exhibitors, for if one can 
struggle a hand through the embarrassing cords he 
could release himself and help his fellow. The experi- 
ments of Messrs. Maskelyne and Cooke prove that the 
knots can be tied and untied irrespective of either ex- 
traneous or spiritual agency, for the knots were sealed 



with wax, yet the hands were released and rebound 
again in the course of a few seconds. 

One of the most common and useful of running 
knots used in commerce, and only applicable to small 
cords, is the RUNNING NooSE (Fig. 34). A simple 

Fig. 34- 

Fig. 35- 

knot is made on the end of the cord, which is then 
simply knotted round. The running noose known as 
the Crossed Running Knot (Fig. 35), is a useful 
knot in packing heavy goods, as well as a useful anchor 
fastening. Many visitors to a seaport have watched 
the tars at work on the outside of their vessels, sus- 
pended by a rope whilst they sat comfortably in a 
Bowline Knot (Fig. 36). This knot is formed by 
passing the loose end through the lower loop of a 
figure 8 knot, and "seizing" or tying the end with 
small cord or marline. 

This can hardly be called the true " bowline " knot, 
which is shown at Fig. 39. This is called a Standing 



Fig- 39. 

Fig. 40. 

Fig. 41. 

Bowline Knot in contradistinction to Fig.40, which 
is called a " running" bowline knot, and forms a noose 


to put over anything. Here the loop or eye at B runs 
upon the standing part of the rope A A, forming an- 
other loop at c. A bowline knot on a bight of a rope 
seems a very difficult matter, but it is not so in reality. 
It is shown in Fig. 41, and is easily made ; its great 
use is in lowering a man from a height, such as the 
rigging of a vessel, or, in case of fire, from a window. 
Fig. 42 is not calculated to bear the same strain, and 
is principally used to make fast the sheets of small 
boat sails. It is known as the " Midshipman's Hitch," 
and its construction is obvious. Figs. 37 and 38 re- 
present two slip clinches, or open running knots, 
" seized " instead of tied. Fig. 38 is used to clinch a 
sailor's knot. These knots and loops are closely con- 
nected with the hitches and bends in shape. 

Fig. 42. 



The most handsome knots of any practical value, 
and which approach nearest to the fancy knots of 
history, are Shortening Knots — knots that hold the 
surplus cord tight and firm without any loose ends. 
The most simple shortening for all descriptions of 
small cords is that known to boys as the Single Plait, 
but which seamen know as the Chain Knot. It is so 
easily made as to be popular with most young people. 
The first movement is to make the running loop (Fig. 
29), then to draw the loose end through the loop as 
shown in Fig. 43, and repeat the movement until the 
requisite length of cord has been taken up and 
shortened ; the end may then be secured by passing a 
belaying pin or a piece of wood through the loop (see 
Fig. 43), or by bringing the end of the rope through 
the last loop, as shown in Fig. 44. 

The Twist Knot is by no means so generally known, 
though it is a very useful shortening, and admirably 
adapted for other purposes. Dissected, it is an ordi- 
nary " three plait," though formed of one piece. It 
is more useful than when formed of three separate 
pieces of string, for the ends are fastened and it cannot 
come undone. The mode of commencing this knot is 



Fig- 43- 

Fig. 44. 

shown in Fig. 45. The double loop is held in the left 
hand ; the side A is then brought over to B, with a 
half-turn B is crossed over to A, and the process of an 
ordinary three plait is continued until the end of the 
loop is reached, when the loose end is passed through 
the bight and the knot is fastened and completed as 
shown in Fig. 46. If well done, it forms a hard, tight, 
and compact long knot. 

Closely allied to these knots is the Double Chain 
Knot (Fig. 47), which is really a pretty form of open 
knot, easily made, if the first loop is made secure by 
a twist in the rope, as shown in the diagram, and then 
pass the loose end through the preceding loop right 
and left until the knot is finished. This knot admits 
of any length of rope being used, whilst the majority 
of the other shortenings are only applicable to limited 



Fig. 46. 

Fig. 47- 


Fig. 48. 

Fig. 49, 


The Simple Loop or Bend Shortening (Fig. 48) is a 
plain, useful expedient for stout rope, and has the 
merit of not injuring the rope by any unnecessary 
strain, or crossing the fibres of the hemp. Its con- 
struction is evident. 

In Fig. 49 we have a quickly made shortening, 
generally known as the Knot Shortening. It is simply 
an ordinary knot in the middle of a rope in which a 
double bend has previously been made. It is not 
adapted to stand a heavy strain, but from its security 
must be of vast use to travellers in cases where the 
strain is not direct on the knot, which is the case in 
the lashing of waggons and in the tying of packages ; 
this, unlike Fig. 48, can only be made when both ends 
of the rope are free. For thick ropes it is not adapted. 

When both ends of the rope are fast, the "SHEEP- 
SHANK," or, as it is sometimes called, the "Dogshank" 
shortening is used. The best and most secure form is 
that shown by Fig. 50. A simple running knot (Fig. 
29) is first made in the rope ; a bend is pushed through 
the running loop, which is then drawn taut ; the other 
end of the bend is fastened in a similar manner, and 
forms, when complete. Fig. 50. 

A much more simple "dogshank" is that shown in 
Fig. 51. In this a simple loop is made in the rope, and 
the hitch or bend placed through it. It is easily made, 
but is hardly to be depended on without being tied or 
seized as Fig. 48. If there is time to do this, it forms 
a safe and excellent shortening. 

In Figs. 52, S3, and 54 are shown three loop shor- 




tenings, which can only be made when one end of the 
rope is free. To make Fig. 52 we ought to form a 
simple knot, and whilst open pass the loose end of the 
rope through the loop, and the shortening can then be 
made of the desired length, and fastened at the end 
of the hitch by a similar simple knot. Fig. 53 is an 
improvement, inasmuch as the strain is more equally 
borne by the various parts of the rope. It is formed 
by placing the rope in the position of Fig. 45, then 
turning the loose end first round the upper end of the 
hitch, and then the lower, and fasten by bringing the 
end through the loop which remains. The advantage 
of Fig. 54 consists in the fact that it can be loosened 
at will, by taking out the marlinespike or wood pin. 



The knots most common — those in use in everyday 
life are those which are used in uniting two separated 
ends of ropes — are not those used as stoppers or 
" shortenings " on a single line, but are used for uniting 
the ends of two separate pieces of rope. 

Fig- 55- 

Fig. 56. 

Fig- 57 

When two simple loops or hitches (Fig. 16) are crossed 
together (Fig. 55), they form the commencement of 
the famous Sailor's Knot, a variation of the Reef 
Knot (Fig. 57), which is loosely formed in Fig. 56. 
In this knot the two ends lie close together, and when 
the ropes are of equal thickness it forms one of the 
simplest and best knots for uniting two pieces of rope 
or cord, and can be easily untied ; and hence its use 
as a reef knot. If, however, the cords be of unequal 
thicknesses, the knot will slip and form a loop as in 
Fig. 58, and part company. If the ends are not laid 



parallel to the rope, as in Fig. 59, it becomes the False 
di Granny Knot. On a comparison of Figs. 60 and 
57, where the two knots are shown drawn taut, the dif- 
ference in neatness and compactness will be at once 
apparent. The reef knot may be made either under 
hand or overhand, as may be most convenient. If it 
is necessary to use ropes of different thicknesses, then 
the ends of the sailor's knot must be wrapped or tied 
to the cord, as shown in Fig. 61, which shows a very 
useful and neat method of joining two ropes, if time is 
not an object. On the other hand, the " Open -HAND " 
Knot is one of the quickest made ; it has also the 
recommendation of never slipping or untying — it 
remains firm ; but if a great strain is put on the rope, 
it is more apt to break at the knot than many of the 
other knots. Besides, it is thick, heavy, and clumsy, 
whether tied to the right or left. Fig. 62 shows its 
open formation from the front, and Fig. S^i its back 
view when drawn taut. 

For small cord or twine the Weaver's Knot is per- 
haps the best ; for thread it is incomparably the best 
knot, and easiest made. The two ends are taken and 
crossed, as Fig. 64, and both cords are held between 
the thumb and forefinger of the left hand. The rfght 
end (a) is then looped back over the left end and 
brought under the thumb, where it is held fast, while 
the right-hand end (b) is slipped through the loop at c ; 
the knot (Fig. 66) is then formed by tightening the 
right-hand cord. If cord thicker than thread is used, 
the end B must be held between the thumb and finger 



of the left hand whilst the knot is being drawn taut, 
as in Fig. 67. 

The " Fisherman's." or, as it is sometimes called, 
the "Englishman's" Knot, is of quite another cha- 



racter. It is formed of two simple knots (see Fig. 70) 
slipped over each cord, as in Fig. 68. When drawn taut 
its front appearance is shown at Fig. 69. It is a very 
useful knot. To anglers it is invaluable, as it may be 
separated by taking hold of the ends A, B, so as to 
admit a third line between them as a " dropper," in 
fly-fishing. In joining gut-lines the same knot, left a 
little apart and the intermediate opening wrapped or 
whipped with silk, forms one of the strongest and most 
reliable fastenings known. Mr. Cholmondeley Pennell, 
who subjected this knot to a series of experiments, 
found that the line snapped sooner at any other part 
than at this knot. It is also very useful to join ropes 
for temporary purposes only, as it is firm and may be 
easily untied. 

The " Ordinary " Knot or Tie, for uniting large 
ropes, is shown in Fig. 71. It has all the advantages 
of the open-hand knot, with the additional recommen- 
dations that it is easy to make, very strong, and does 
not strain the fibres of the rope. It is formed by first 
making a simple knot (Fig. 70), and then interlacing 
the other cord in the manner shown at Fig. 71. When 
drawn taut it has the appearance of Fig. y2. However 
great the strain, it does not injure the rope, which 
keeps also in a straight line, which it will not do with 
the open-hand knot. Figs. 62 and 63. If the ends are 
whipped with twine, as shown in Fig. 61, it is really a 
neat and handsome as well as a useful knot 

Another knot, which may be termed a Shortening 
Tie, is shown at Fig. 74. It is a handsome knot, and 



is used when there is too much rope, and where it is 
necessary to use a large knot for the purpose of pre- 



venting its running too far through an eye, ring, or 
loop. It is formed by making the figure of 8 knot 
at the end of a rope (Fig. 73), which is a double knot 



and then interlacincj the other rope through it, as in 
Fig. 26. When drawn taut it has the appearance of 
Fig. 7?- 

It is sometimes necessary to join hawsers, as well 
as ropes, for some temporary or permanent purpose, 
and for this some special contrivances have to be 
made. The simple Hawsf.R Bend (Fig. 76) is so easy 

Fig. 76. 

as to be constantly adopted when only a temporary 
purpose has to be served. It is a simple hitch within 
a loop. The Garrick Bend is stronger and more 
reliable (Fig. 76=^). What is known as the BOWLINE 

Fig. 76.* 

Bend (Fig. 77) is perhaps the strongest of all the 
knotted hawser bends. It is formed of two Bowline 
Knots, one crossing the loop of , the other. The 
diagram gives a good idea of this bend. 



Fig. 77. 

The Half-Hitch and Seizing Bend (Fig. yy*) 
takes more time, and is used on hawsers which 
require to be joined for a long period ; its formation 
is evident 

Fig. 77*. 

These are all the knots, properly so called, used for 
the purpose of uniting two pieces of rope which have 
simple ends. The knots are very different when one 
rope has a temporary or permanent loop ; some of 
these are elsewhere given, 



Hawsers, cables, and even ropes sometimes re- 
quire uniting in such a manner that there should be no 
obvious difference in their diameter, and no substan- 
tial weakening of their strength.* This can only be 
accomplished by means of "Splicing," — that is, putting 
the ends of ropes together by opening the strands 
and placing them into one another; or, if equal dia- 
meter is not essential, by putting the strands of the 
end of a rope between those of a bight. 

A Short Splice (Fig. 82) is not difficult, and is 
only used where there is not much strength required, 
and time does not permit of making the long splice, 
which is far the best. Open the ends for a short dis- 
tance (Figs. 78, 79), and place them together as shown 
in the diagram (Fig. 80) ; grease the ends of the 
strand well, and lay them one within the other, draw- 
ing them as hard as possible to each other. Hold 
the end of one rope and the three strands which come 
from the opposite rope fast in the left hand, or, if the 
rope be large, stop them down to it with rope yarn ; 
then with a marlinespike (Fig. 81) open the strand, and 

* A splice weakens a rope about one eighth. 



push down the middle strand of the other end, and by 
raising alternate strands on both ends, and working in 
the strands as shown, it assumes the appearance of 
Fig. 82. It must not be forgotten that the first strand 
must be passed over the strand which is first next to 
it, and through under the second, and out between 
the second and third next to it. In the subsequent 
operation, the strands must be passed over the third 
from it, and under the fourth and through. Only one- 
half the strand need be passed the second time, and 
the other cut off to taper the splice. 

To know how to make a Long Splice is most 
useful in every condition of hfe in which cordage is 
used, as a long-spliced rope will reeve and run through 
any block, just the same as a new rope, and compara- 
tively as strong. You unlay the ends of two ropes to 
a distance three or four times the length used in a 


short splice, and splice them 
within one another in the same 
manner. Unlay one strand for 
a considerable distance, and fill 
up the interval which it leaves 
with the opposite strand from 
the other rope, and twist the 
ends of these two ropes together. 
Then do the same with two 
more strands. The two remain- 
ing strands are twisted together 
in the place where they first 
crossed. The general appearance 
of the splice is shown in Fig. 83. 
„' The ends in progress, which are 
o here shown short, are cut and 
passed through as in the short 
splice. Before cutting, the rope 
should be got well on the stretch. 
A chafed strand is not only 
unsightly but weakens a rope, 
whilst the two remaining strands 
may be perfectl}- sound. It is 
sometimes desirable to put a new 
strand in, and this is done by 
cutting off the chafed strand for 
some distance, and then taking 
a strand from a new rope and 
laying it into the score in which 
the damaged one lay before. 



Lay it up just as in a long splice, cut half, and stick the 
half-strands, and the repair is accomplished. When 
the splice is left thicker than the ordinary rope, it is 
termed a Pudding Splice, and is used on emergencies. 
A Cut Splice (Fig. 84) is frequently useful to 
make a loop in a rope. To form it the rope is cut in 

Fig. 8s 

Fig 84. 

two, and the ends are unlaid as for a short splice. 
Place the ends of each rope against the standing part 
of the other, forming an oblong eye of the size you 
wish (as in Fig. 84), then pass the ends through the 
strands of the standing parts in the same manner as 
in the short splice, and the operation is complete. 

An Eye Splice (Fig. 85) is used by seafarers to 
splice round a block, deadeye, or thimble, and is 
formed by unlaying the end of a rope for a short 



distance, and laying three strands upon the standing 
part, so as to form an eye. Put one end in the strand 
next to it in the same manner as the short splice, put 
the next end over that strand and through the second, 
and put the remaining end through the third strand 
on the other side of the rope ; taper them, divide the 
strands, and put them in again. 

Fig. 86. 

Fig. 87. 

A Shroud Knot (Fig. S6) is another method of 
joining two ropes. You open up the ends of the 
ropes, as in a short splice, and place the strands one 
within the other ; then single " wall " the strands of 
one rope (see Figs. 172, 174) round the standing part 
of the other against the lay ; taper the ends off, and 
serve over. 

The best method of making a French Shroud 
KNOT(Fig.89), which is neater, may be thus described : 
— The strands are placed as in a short splice ; they 



are placed closely, as in Fig. 87. Make a loop of the 
strand A ; pass the end of strand B through the bight 
of A, as C ; make a loop of strand D, and pass the end 
of strand A through it, as at D ; then pass the end of 
strand D through the bight of strand B, and one side 
is complete. Care should be taken that all the ends 
should be passed through the loops or bights, for this 
is "walling." Follow the same plan with the three 
strands on the other side, and then draw all ends 
taut, when the knot will be shown as in Fig. 88. The 
ends of the strands must then be tapered on each 
side, marled, and served over, and when complete will 
look as Fig. 89. 

Fig. 88, 

Fig. 89. 



Occasions constantly occur both on sea and land, 
in fair weather and foul, to unite ropes on the bight, 
or that are fitted with eyes or other loops. In Fig. 90 
we show the simplest of all these knots, a running 
knot fastened in the eye of a rope. There are many 

Fig. 90. 

Other modes of fastening a simple end to a ring, loop, 
or eye, and these will be found fully illustrated in 
Section XI , devoted to moorings and anchor fasten- 

The Wedding Knot (Fig. 91), or "Rose Lashing," 
is one to join two rope-ends, both having eyes. The 
lashing is passed successively through both eyes, and 
then tied in the centre. 




Fig. 91, Fig. 92. 

Fig. 93- 

Fig. 94. 


Fig. 92 is a joint by a spherical shell, each loop 
being made as in figures, and surrounding the ball of 
wood technically called a shell. 

The Deadeye Lashing (Fig. 93) is one of fre- 
quent use in various forms on board full-rigged ships; 
it admits of easy adjustment to the strain of the ropes. 
The ram blocks are fastened in the eyes, which are 
here made by simple lashings, and tightened by the 
lanyards (A A), which pass through holes in the 
deadeye, so as to tighten or slacken the rope at will. 
The ends of the lanyard are fastened to the main 
rope. These deadeyes are frequently seen fastened 
to the point wherever it is necessary to strain the 

In Fig. 94 are shown three methods of joining cord- 
age — A is what is termed a Belaying-Fin Splice. 
The belaying-pin, which is here shown stopped on the 
end of the rope, and served with yarn, is passed 
through the eye of the rope, and at the other end a 
loop is formed. Through this loop or bend a " button,'' 
secured to the rope (b) by a single knot, is passed, and 
the double junction is complete, and has the advan- 
tage of being separated in an instant. 

Loops and eyes in ropes are in constant use for a 
variety of purposes. In the previous section, the 
mode of making an "eye'' in the centre of a rope 
is shown (Fig. 84), as well as the "eye and splice" 
(Fig. 85). The latter, however, is not so strong or 
durable as 

An Artificial Eye (Fig. 95), which is made more in 


the manner of a long splice. Take the end of a rope 

and unlay one strand ; lay the two 

strands back to the standing part 

of the rope ; pass the strand which 

has been unlaid over the end and 

in the intervals round the eye, 

until it returns down the standing 

part, and lies under the eye with 

the strands ; then divide the strands, 

taper them down, and serve them 

over with spun yarn. This is the 

" eye," or loop, shown at Figs. 90, 

91, 94, served over. 

A Flemish Eye (Fig. 96) is thus formed : — The 
rope is at first whipped, and the strands unlaid to the 

Fig. 95- 







Fig. 96. 

whipping and opened out, separating each rope yarn. 
Take a piece of wood the size of the intended eye {a) 
between, and along it lay three or more stops (bbbb); 


hitch over the yarns, and tie with overhand knot (as c), 
crossing tliem somewhat ; seize the ends, and worm 
them between the strands at the shoulder ; then marl 
all down, parcel, and serve the ends. 

The Throat Seizing (Fig. 97) is more rapidly- 
made. The end is only partially opened, and lashed 
with yarn in the manner shown. 

Fig. 97. Fig. 97*. 

Fig. 97* shows one of a variety of rings now but 
seldom used, but still useful to pass other ropes 
through in the rigging, and occasionally on land. 
Another ring is formed by lashing the two ends of a 
short piece of rope to the side -of a long one, giving 
the requisite loop. 

A Grommet (Fig. 98) is a spliced ring so useful 
that no boat or vessel should be without them. They 
are used to lengthen ropes, to play at quoits on board 
foreign ships and steamers. They are made to furnish 
handles to chests, and a variety of other purposes at 
sea ; but are but little known on shore. It is formed 


of a single strand of rope, which, after you have 
formed your ring of the size you may require, is laid, 
in its turns, twice round the ring in the crevices, fol- 
lowing the lay until the ring is complete. Finish with 
an overhand knot (Fig. 55), divide the yarns, and stick 
them in, as in a long splice. 

Fig. 98. 

Fig. 99. 

A SevageE is a ring of rope yarns laid round and 
round a bight, and marled down in a similar manner 
to the " Flemish Eye." They are strong, exceedingly 
useful, and are used, like the grommet, for block- 
straps, and as straps to go round a spar, for a tackle 
to be hooked into for hoisting. 

One of the readiest made of these loops, to be used 
for hoisting, is the Cat's Paw (Fig. 99), where, by 
twisting the rope against the run, it forms a twist on 
either side, which is sufficiently strong to hold hooks 
or tackle to carry considerable weight. 




Ties are the popular embodiment of knots in 
general. The old saying of "being tied to your 
mother's apron-string," has a broader meaning attached 
to it than the mere technical idea of a tie. Then ties 
are so various. There are home ties, ties of the affec- 
tions. The cricketers tied when they were so equally 
matched that neither won. The young wooer wishes 
to be tied ; and, to facilitate that desirable event, he 
puts a handsome tie about his neck ; and the parson, 
when about to tie the nuptial knot, is very particular, 
too, about his spotless tie. The surgeons, also, use 
ties for arteries in amputation (Fig. 102), and for re- 
ducing dislocations (Fig. 104), for it holds firm, and 
does not tighten when pulled. Shopkeepers are adepts 
at tying, for they have to tie up innumerable parcels 
in the course of a year. Their idea of tying is really 
a combination of particular knots, though the final 
fastening is the only technical tie properly so called- 
The model tie of tradesmen is the 

Stationer's Knot (Fig. 100), which may be tieu 
either right or left-handed. It always remains firm, 
and can be instantly untied by pulling the loose end. 
To tie it, a running loop or noose is tied at the end 
of the string, and it crosses the parcel in a vertical 
direction; the cord is then carried crossways round 




the package, and fastened as seen in the sketch. The 
knot can be made by three movements of the fingers, 
so mechanically as to appear to be tied without an 

Fig. 100. 

efifort. This tie is only adapted for small cordage and 
parcels, but is one of the most useful of its class, and 
is inserted here for its general utility. 

Ties vary in form according as the object to be 
fastened is loose, tall, or short. Thus the ties used to 
secure timber vary from the ties which secure a boat 
or a ship to a pier or a post (Section XL), and these 
again vary from those which are useful to secure the 
rope round a mast, or pole, or tree. 

The commencement of a simple knot round a tree, 
mast, or other solid substance, is shown at Fig. loi; 




Fig. loi. 

Fig 102 

allied to it is the 
Clove Hitch, or 
Builder's Knot 
(Fig. 104). This 
knot is used by 
builders to secure 
their scaffolding, 
and is in constant 
use on shipboard. 
The friction is suffi- 
cient to hold the 
rope firm on a per- 
fectly smooth pole 
against a heavy 
lateral pressure. 

the knot, which is in 
reality a reef knot, 
is shown finished 
at Fig. 102. 

The Timber 
Hitch (Fig. 103) 
is one of a series of 
knots which depend 
for their firmness 
upon the friction of 
the parts. It is 
so firm, that the 
greater the strain 
the tighter it be- 
comes. Closely 
Fig. 103. 

Fig 104. 



The clove hitch is 
used by surgeons 
in cases of disloca- 
tion of the thumb, 
to assist the opera- 
tion. When the 
ends are knotted, 
the builder's knot 
becomes the Gun- 
ner's Knot. The 
Double Builder's 
Knot is shown at 
Fig. 105. Itis,how- 
ever, but seldom 
used. The value of 

Fig 107 

Fig. 105. 

Fig. 108. 

these knots is 
so great, that 
a little time 
spent in prac- 
tising the 
loops neces- 
sary to use it 
ously onapier 
or post will be 
amply repaid 
in the course 
of a year. 


Fig 109. 

Fig no 

must be taken 
in this, as in the 
double bow (Fig. 
107) or rosette 
knot, to keep the 
simple knot taut 
until the knot is 
complete. The 
ends must lie 
straight, as in 
the reef knot, or 
otherwise it will 
become the false 
knot known as 
the "granny," 

The Double Bow 
and Single Bow 
Knots are the most 
common and most 
useful of all knots. 
They are both com- 
menced as Fig. loi, 
and the single bow 
(Fig. 106) is made by 
doubling one of the 
loose ends when for- 
ming Fig. 102; it thus 
is easy to untie. Care 

Fig. III. 

Fig 112. 



which should always be avoided. In small cords, 
where considerable tightness is required, a twist knot 
may be used, either in connection with the bow knots, 
or, as in larger cordage, in a Double-twist Knot (Fig. 
109). The commencement is shown at Fig. 108. In 

Fig. 113. 

small cords this knot may be finished as in the com- 
mon knot (Fig. 102) when extra tautness is required, 
and no assistance is near to hold the first knot until 
the second is completed. (The diagrams are purposely 
drawn loose, so that their construction may be more 
easily seen.) 

The knot shown at Fig. no is one that can be 


recommended to all who have to occupy tents or to 
travel much. It is a simple loop made by joining the 
two ends of the rope with a fisherman's knot (Fig. 68)- 
This admits a short cross-bar or wooden pin, and it 
will enable the traveller to suspend clothes, or any 
articles, round a tent-pole. The cord may also be 
used for a " toggle " when two pieces of wood have to 
be joined together. 

A common form of running knot, with two ends, is 
shown in Fig. in. It is used when it is inconvenient 
to divide the rope. Unless the ends are at liberty, it 
could not be used round a mast ; but it can be easily 
slipped round a pier. It is frequently checked by a 
bow, as at Fig. 112, or by the Flemish Knot (Fig. 
113), or the Check Knot (Fig. 114). The two last 
knots cannot be tied unless the ends are loose ; and 
they cannot be untied without assistance from a 
marlinespike or somf, similar contrivance. 



There is a popular fallacy about sailors' knots. A 
reef knot is a true saijor's knot. We know how deftly 
Jack, when ashore, ties his black silk neckerchief with 
a running hitch ; but this is but half a sailor's knot. 
What is called a true sailor's knot has two or more 
hitches, which may be reversed. In Figs. 115 and 
116 we have two varieties of sailors' knots, showing 
one line straight whilst the end is simply twisted 
round in two hitches. These are good mooring knots 
for the painter of a wherry or other small boat. 

An excellent temporary fastening of the end of a 
rope, and one that can be cast off in a moment, is 
shown at Fig. 117; and in this respect it is the reverse 
of the more permanent stoppered loop at Fig. 118, 
For rapidity of unmooring, Fig. 119 has by far the 
advantage. It is a simple boat knot, with only one 
turn in the ring; the loose end is left longer than shown 
in the engraving. This boat knot sometimes catches 
the ring, and sailors prefer 

The Lark Boat Knot (Fig. 120), which is fastened 
by a wooden pin. This knot admits of the instant 
release of the boat. 




gs»ja>a3sa .' '■^^^^'vV"^'^C 




Another simple but useful knot for securing any 
object on a sudden emergency is the boat knot shown 
at Fig. 121, which is an incipient running knot, so to 
speak. Instead of the line running through the loop, 
a small piece of wood or other object is passed between 
it and the loop, and is so held fast. 

Simple and crossed running knots are shown at 
Figs. 122 and 123. The simple running fastening 
(Fig. 122) is not so secure, but chafes less than the 
crossed running knot (Fig. 123). Even this gives 
place to the more elaborate 

Capstan Knot (Fig. 124), which is a species of 
figure of 8 fastening. 

The Lark's Head Knots are far more secure, and 
are more generally used for anchor fastenings. Fig. 125 
shows the ordinary form of this useful knot. Fig. 126 
is the same form of knot stoppered, and Fig. 1 27 when 
it is simply crossed. The double-looped lark's head 
is shown at Fig. 128, and the treble lark's head at 
Fig. 129. The tying of these knots is sufficiently 
obvious, and their variety would seem to meet Captair 
Galton's suggestion in his " Art of Travel," that they 
admit of sufficient variety to form a constant guard 
against the pilfering of the rations and luggage 
waggons when on a journey (see Section XVI.) The 
various forms of ring knots are still further extended 
by the 

Backhanded Sailor's Knots, shown at Figs. 130 
and 131. 

Slip Knots, stoppered, are shown by Figs. 132, 133. 




F'g- 1 34 shows 
Fig- 13s secured 
by a slip clincli. 
This part of the 
subject may be 
appropriately con- 
cluded by a check 
knot, connecting 
two rings together. 
It is called by gun- 
ners a Delay Knot, 
and it is one of 
those knots which 
are ornamental as 
well as useful. 

Fig. 133- 

Fig. 134 

Fig I3S. 


In the foregoing chapters a great number of hitches 
have been shown in connection with the various knots 
and fastenings. Those included in this chapter are 
of the greatest practical value in the every-day life of 
the builder, timber hauler, and warehouseman, as well 
as to those engaged in the docks and seafaring life. 

Fig. 136. 

What is known as the Blackwall Hitch (Fig. 136) 
is the simplest. Its strength is derived from the fric- 
tion of one rope crossing the other. 



Fig. 137. 

The Timber Hitch (Fig. 137) is used for towing 
or hauling timber. It consists of the simple timber 
hitch (Fig. 103), with an additional hitch higher up to 
give additional purchase to the rope. 

Fig. 138. 

The Clove Hitch, so universal, is also used for 
the purpose of hauling in heavy cables or chains by 
two or more men (Fig. 138). 



The Chain Hitch (Fig. 139) is another and more 
powerful method of attaching a small rope to aid in 

Fig- 139- 

Fig. 140 

pulling in a larger, or of hauling a vessel by a warp to 
the shore. When it is necessary to use a lever as a 
handspike, the fastening 140 is uSed. It is obvious 
that occasions will arise when room cannot be found 




for the ordinary hauling ; then this mode of fastening 
is necessary. 

The Rolling Hitch (Fig. 141) is used principally 
for attaching a rope to an upright stay, spar, or 
scaffold-pole. It is a modification of the builder's 
double knot (Fig. 105). 

Fig. 142. 

Fig. 141. 

The Magnus Hitch (Fig. 143) shows one of the 
numerous hitches for holding spars, and the STUDDING 
Sail Bend (Fig. 142) another. Frequently another 
hitch is taken round the spar for greater security. 
When it is necessary to hold another tackle by the 
same rope to a spar, the ROBAND HiTCH (Fig. 144) 
is useful. The end is secured on the other side, as 
in Fig. 142. 

Amongst the most useful methods of using cordage, 
that of Slings is the most general. Millers, sailors, 



and stevedores are well acquainted with their use. A 
simple sling is merely an extension of a sevagee, 

Fig. 143- 

described on page 57, or it is an endless piece of rope, 
which is quickly passed round a, sack, or box 

Fig. 145. 

Fig. 144. 

(Fig. 145) and hoisted aloft, or let down into the hold 
or waggon. The hook is slipped from one loop to the 
other, and the rising tackle carries the sling with it. 



Fig. 146 shows another mode of slinging casks with 
a piece of rope, with the head closed. A running 

Fig. 146. 

noose is placed round one end, and the rope is passed 
along the top of the cask, and then slipped round the 

Fig. 147. 

other end of the cask and fastened with reverse^ 
hitches, as shown in Fig. 116. This is not so rapid, 
but is used when a sling is not at hand. When the 



head of the cask is open, it is slung as in Fig. 147 — a 
ready mode of raising an injured man from a well or 
mine when other appliances are not at hand. The 
bight of the rope, or "whip," is fastened best by a 
bowline knot, and frequently another hitch is put 
round the cask nearer the head. 

Sometimes it is necessary to put a stopper on a 
rope to prevent another slipping, or for other pur- 
poses. This is best accomplished by 

Fig. 150. 

A Turk's Head Knot, which is worked upon a 
rope with a piece of small line (Figs. 148, 149, 150). 
Take a clove hitch slack with the rope, with the line 
round the rope ; then take one of the bights formed by 
the clove hitch and put it over the other, pass the end 
under, and up, and through the bight which is under- 
neath ; then cross the bights again, and put the end 
round again, under, and up through the bight which 
is underneath. After this follow the lead, and it will 
make a turban of three parts to each cross. 



Nothing is so astonishing to the eyes of a lands- 
man on his first voyage as the facility with which the 
large steamer is warped out of dock from amidst a 
crowd of other vessels, and the ease with which it is 

Fig. 154 

moved to the pier by the simple twisting of the cable 
round a post or the huge cleats which are fastened 
into the sides of the vessels or on the pier-head. 

The simple stoppered loop (Fig. 151) is familiar to 
all, and when the end of the rope can be constantly 
used no other fastening is required. It happens fre- 




quently that either the end of the rope is not stoppered 
or the middle of the rope must be used, then the 

Fig. 152. 

Fig. I55. 

Waterman's Knot (Fig. 152) may be used. This 
is similar to the clove hitch, and it can be made in a 
moment by placing two loops on the rope, as shown 
in Fig. 153. 

Fig- I S3 



A lark's head can be easily made over a post when 
there is a running noose or knot, as at Fig. 1 54. 

The bend at Fig. 155 is an example of the holding 
power of a twisted rope, which is mentioned in con- 
nection with the stopping of the balloon in the intro- 
duction to these sections. 

The Chain Fastening (Fig. 156) is of a more 

Fig. 156. 

permanent character, and is used when the vessel is 
likely to remain some time. It is also useful in agri- 
cultural work when the end of the rope would be in 
the way of the waggon, machinery, or men. 

Occasionally square moorings or sheaves are used 
for the mooring of vessels. In these cases the fasten- 
ings vary. 

Fig. 157 is a double chain fastening to sheaves. 



In Fig. 158 is a loop fastening to sheaves, which 
may be tied or untied without untying the loop itself. 

Fig 157. 

This knot holds itself. It is made by passing the 
loops A, B, C, D, E, as shown, and then placing the 

Fig. 158. 

loop F over the head of the right-hand post of the 
sheaves. When slackened, the loop of the cable F 
will again slip over the head of the post, and the turns 
are then reversed. There is a more simple fastening 
by wrapping the cable round the angle of the sheaves. 



Ii? Figs. 159 and 160 there are two examples of a 

Fig 159. 
crossed and square fastening, which sufficiently ex- 

Fig. 160. 

plain themselves. The ends are secured by being 
stoppered to the cable. 



The ends of small ropes are secured round a belay- 
ing-pin, as in Fig. i6i, or on a cleat (Fig. 162), the 
crossing several times repeated. 

Fig. 161. 

Fig. 162. 

The holding together of ropes or hawsers by bands, 
ligatures, or ties, has been before alluded to. What is 
termed the NECKLACE TiE (Fig. 163) is an example 

Fig. 163. 

where the ends of the yarn are secured by a reef knot, 
after being passed over the band. It is a safe knot, 
and the greater the strain the tighter the knot be- 


A useful band is shown at Fig. 164. The second 
end (b) is drawn through by a turn — a very useful 
method of securing the ligature of a fractured fishing- 
rod. Perhaps a better plan, but not always practi- 





Fig. 164. 

cable, is to lay the first end with a simple loop the 
length of the band, then tightly wrap the cord or 
string over the space necessary, and then the loose 
end may be threaded through the loop left by the 

Fig, 165. 

turn, and drawn inwards. This forms a very neat 
band, and it is easily made. 

These bands, or ligatures, vary with the mode of 
fastening the ends. Sometimes the two ends are 



fastened by a reef knot on the surface, and at others 
the ends are hitched through each other and drawn 
back, and not left straight as in Fig. 164. 

The Portuguese Knot, used as a lashing for sheave 
legs. This knot is first a plain band round the legs 
when placed close together ; the legs are then opened 
and the ends secured between them, as shown in 
Fig. 163. 

Packing Knots are used for binding timbers 
together. In Fig. 165, the knot is shown commenced 
at A, and B the knot complete. It is tightened by 
means of a packing-stick, c, which is twisted under 
the knot, and then twined round and secured as 
shown. A quicker plan is two toggles, similar to 
the one shown in Fig. 166, and after twisting the 
sticks round, tie the two ends of the sticks together. 

Fig. 166. 


If ropes, hawsers, or cables are left with their ends 
unguarded, they are sure to become untwisted or other- 
wise unmanageable. The same is true, in a lesser 
degree, of lanyards and smaller ropes. These can 
easily be secured with a fine whipping, and the smaller 
yarns and threads by a single overhand or other knot. 
The ends of ropes at sea are variously treated ; in some 
instances they are finely tapered to a point, to pass 
easily through a block or ring. 

The usual method of pointing a rope is first to stop 
it with a whipping (see Fig. 167), and then unlay the 
end of it. Take out as many yarns as are necessary, 
and twist each yarn in two. Take two parts of different 
yarns, and twist them tight into " nettles " * — three or 
four yarns twisted together — if the rope is not very 
small. The rest of the yarns may be combed down 
with a knife, and the rest put back upon the rope. 
Pass three turns of twine like a timber hitch taut 

* A " nettle " is made of two or three yams laid up with the 
finger and thumb, keeping the lay on the yarn, and is left-handed 




round the part where the nettles separate, and hitch 
the twine, which is called the warp. Lay the nettles 
backwards and forwards each time. The ends may be 
whipped and snaked with twine, or the nettles hitched 
over the warp and hauled tight. The upper seizing 

Fig. 167. 

Fig. 168. 

must be snaked. A piece of stick is put in if the 
upper part is too weak for pointing, and frequently 
the end is terminated by a small eye, as in Fig. 168, 
called an eye splice. 

Snaking a Seizing is done by taking the end 


under and over the outer turns of the seizing alter- 
nately, passing over the whole. The whole may be 
whipped also with small twine. 

Fig. 169. 

The ends of a four-stranded rope may be thus 
secured. The end is first whipped as at A, Fig. 169, 
and the four strands are opened out. They are then 
brought down over the end in loops, and the strands 
tied together (Fig. 170); or they may be simply 
brought down as in Fig. 171, and bound to the cable 
with twine, 

A three -stranded cable may be finished by the 
Simple Wall Knot (Fig. 172), which shows the 
interlacing of the strands one within the other. When 
these are drawn taut the knot is finished. When a 



single. wall is "crowned," as it is termed, one end is 
laid over the top of the knot ; the second end is laid 

Fig. 170. Fig. 171. Fig. 172. 

over the first, the third over the second and through 
the bight of the first (Fig. 173). 

Fig. 173- Fig- 174. 

A Double Wall Knot (Fig. 174) is formed by 
making the single wall first,, and not hauling it taut. 




Then take one end and bring it underneath the part 
of the first walling next to it, and push it up through 
the same bight (Fig. 174). Do the same with the 
other strands, pushing them up through two bights. 
If made thus it will have a double wall and a single 

Fig. 175. 

Fig. 176. 

Fig. 177. 

A double wall double crowned is Fig. 174 continued. 
The strands are laid by the sides of those of the single 
crown, pushing them through the same bight in the 
single crown and down through the double walling, 
and the knot is completed (Fig. 175). Fig. 176 shows 
one method of finishing a single wall by cutting off the 
strands and tying them with twine ; and the double 
crowned wall knot may by finished by a Lark's Nest 
(Fig. 177), by interlacing the loose strands one within 
another by a requisite number of turns over the 
padding. This forms a knot at the end of the rope. 


The knot known as the Matthew Walker is 
formed as at Fig. 178. The whipping is first put on ; 
the strands are opened ; one strand is taken round 

Fig. 178. Fig. 179. 

the rope ana through its own bight, then the next 
strand underneath through the bight of the first and 
through its own bight, and the third strand under- 
neath. When taut it has the appearance of Fig. 179. 



In Section I. we sketched some of the various 
uses to which a knowledge of knots may be put in 
every-day life. It is not every one that goes to sea, 
or lives even upon the sea-shore, but there are many 
who travel, many who live in "out-of-the-world" 
localities where artizans are scarce, but where rope or 

Fig. i8o. 

twine, or some substitute for it, may be found. In 
civilized life, as in primitive regions, a piece of string 
or rope is a carpenter's chest of tools, a saddler's shop' 
a ladder, straps, buckles, and half a hundred other 
things besides, which are not dreamt of in the philo- 
sophy of common men. Who has not seen a poor 
fellow wearying along with his pack sluiig over a 
stick, or in his hands, when a couple of slings shown 



in Fig. 145 would enable him, if he shortened it 
to the proper length, to put his arms through the 
loops and carry it as a knapsack, easily and without 
unnecessary fatigue ? If a buckle is wanted, what is 
more easy than to make a two-grommet, or rings of 

Fig, 181. 

rope, as in Fig. 1 80 .'' and by inserting a piece of wood 
between them an extempore buckle is produced. In 
the same manner a swivel is frequently wanted in the 
country. The blacksmith may be away from home, 
or we may be far away from such an individual, with 

Fig. 182. 

a chance of being benighted. A lucky thought strikes 
the " knot-tyer,'' and by the aid of a little bit of 
wood he produces the swivel (Fig. 181), strong and 
useful, if not ornamental. Another mode of producing 
a useful swivel, in a rough and ready manner, is shown 
at Fig. 182. 



These simple contrivances, which have been culled 
from books of travels, will show how much a know- 
ledge of the uses to which ropes may be put and knots 
tied is useful to mankind. An Alpine climber, or a 
puffin gatherer on the northern cliffs, without a know- 
ledge of a bowline knot would be a lost man ; and, if 
lost, the bowHne in a bight would enable him to seat 
himself, if alive, and be lifted up by strong hands 

Fig. 183. 

above ; or, if dead, the running bowline, or some of 
the running loops before described, would enable his 
friends to raise his body. The modes in which ropes 
are made to bind bamboos together in the East is 
suggestive of what might be done nearer home. There 
is a hitch which Captain Galton,in his "Art of Travel,'' 
calls the Malay Hitch, for want of a better term. 
He shows how easily by it, when planks or boards 
are at hand, a shelter can be made without nails or 
injuring the boards, and so quickly that a part}' could 



be housed in a few minutes. Yet by a glance at 
Fig. 183 it will be seen how simply it may be done : 
the cord is only twisted once as each board is inserted 
between them, and they are held together sufficiently 
tight for any temporary purpose. 

Fig. 184. 

Take, again, the rude weaving apparatus shown in 
Fig. 184. A knowledge of such a mode of weaving 
was common in every farmhouse half a century ago. 
Yet in wet summers at home, now that coir twine is 
cheap and plentiful, it might be used with advantage 
on many a farm. The mode of its construction and 
use is thus given : — 

Take two pegs, A and B, about 15 or 18 inches long, 
and drive them into the ground so as to be firm, and 
standing about a foot out of it. Then take a stick or 
piece of wood and lash it across the upright stakes at 
A B. A row of pegs at C may now be driven into the 


ground parallel to A B, at equal distances apart — the 
distance should not exceed 6 inches. Two sets of 
strings are then tied to the stake A B. One set is 
tied to the stick or staff D E, and the others have their 
loose ends placed into clefts or notches on the pegs, 
at C. If there are a dozen strings, then the odd 
numbers, i, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, must be attached to the 
staff D E ; and the even numbers, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, to 
the cross staff A B. By alternately raising and depress- 
ing D E, and placing a handful of straw or rushes 
between the strings at each movement, and making 
them lie close by pulling them with a stick, a good 
mat is made by this rough and simple mode of weav- 
ing, easily and rapidly, and when it has served its 
purpose, the string, if necessary, may be recovered. 
The mats may be trimmed and joined together, if 
thick and clumsy, by what is known as the cobbler's 
stitch, or by tying the string ends together. 

The art of plaiting, or, as it is called at sea, " sennit" 
making, should be cultivated. In the section on 
Shortenings, we have given some illustrations of plait- 
ing on one cord. The loose and tight drummer's plait 
is given ; and in Captain Alston's " Seamanship," the 
necessity of cultivating the making of straw sennit, or 
straw plait, is inculcated, in consequence of the variety 
of purposes to which the art may be put, from the 
making of hats to the making of baskets. These are 
only a few of the many uses to which this knowledge 


may be put in every-day life. The examples might 
be multiplied ad infinitum. Still, the uses of common 
things are too apt to be forgotten or overlooked in 
these busy days. Those curious in the many uses 
found for knots will be interested in the next section. 



There is scarcely a traveller or explorer who has 
not felt the want of some simple and ready means of 
communicating a message apart from the usual pen 
and ink. Many persons have suggested a series of 
knots for this purpose, apparently in ignorance that 
such a scheme of knot writing was introduced for the 
use of the blind many years ago, by a teacher named 
David Macheath, of the Edinburgh Blind Asylum, 
and a scholar named Robert Mylne. They describe 
their " string alphabet," as they term it, thus : — The 
string alphabet is formed by so knotting a cord that 
the protuberances made upon it may be qualified by 
their shape, size, and situation for signifying the 
elements of language. The letters of this alphabet 
are distributed into seven classes, which are distin- 
guished by certain knots or other marks. Each class 
comprehends four letters, except the last, which com- 
prehends but two. The first, or A class, is distin- 
guished by a large round or treble knot (Fig. 185). 
The second, or E class, by a knot projecting from the 
line; the third, or I class, by the series of links known 




as the " drummer's plait." The fourth, or M class, by 
a simple noose; the fifth, or Q class, by a noose witli 


a line drawn through it; the sixth, or U class, by a 
noose with a net knot cast on it; and the seventh, or 
Y class, by a twined noose. 


The first letter of each class is distinguished by the 
simple characteristic of its respective class, the second 
by the characteristic and a common knot close to it, 
the third by the characteristic and a common knot 
half an inch from it, and the fourth by the charac- 
teristic and a common knot an inch from it. Thus A 
is simply a large round knot ; B is a large round knot 
with a common knot close to it ; C is a large round 
knot with a common knot half an inch from it ; and 
D is a large round knot with a common knot an inch 
from it ; and so on. The knotted string is wound 
round a vertical frame, which revolves and passes from 
the reader as he proceeds. 

Of the general character of the string alphabet the 
inventors say : — " It must readily occur to every one 
that the employment of an alphabet composed in the 
manner which has been explained will ever be neces- 
sarily tedious ; but it should be borne in mind that 
there is no supposable system of tangible figures 
significant of thought that is not more or less liable to 
the same objection. . . . There can scarcely be 
any system of tangible signs which it would be less 
difficult either to learn or to remember, since a person 
of ordinary intellect may easily acquire a thorough 
knowledge of the string alphabet in an hour and retain 
it for ever. Yet the inventors can assure their readers 
that it is impossible for the pen or the press to convey 
ideas with greater precision. Besides the highly impor- 


tant properties of simplicity and accuracy which their 
scheme unites, and in which it has not been surpassed, 
it possesses various minor, nor yet inconsiderable 
advantages, in which it is presumed it cannot be 
equalled by anything of its kind. 

" For example, its tactile representations of articu- 
late sounds are easily portable. The materials of 
which they are constructed may always be procured 
at a trifling expense, and the apparatus necessary for 
their construction is extremely simple. In addition to 
the letters of the alphabet, there have been contrived 
arithmetical figures, which it is hoped will be of great 
utility, as the remembrance of numbers is often found 
peculiarly difficult. Palpable commas, semicolons, &c., 
have likewise been provided, to be used when judged 

These it has not been deemea necessary to give, in 
consequence of their uselessness in the only practical 
manner in which these knots might be of service — 
that of conveying a message in a strange countryi 
where pens, ink, or pencil were not at hand.